IMS Study Identifies Strategies to Improve Medicine Use

A new study shows that policies to bolster patients' adherence to prescribed therapies could trim $269 billion from health care costs annually.

This article published with permission from The Burrill Report.

The IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics suggests in a new study that policies to bolster patients’ adherence to prescribed therapies could trim $269 billion from health care costs annually.

Policies on the use of medicines are often disconnected from other initiatives to contain healthcare costs, the IMS Institute says. To improve medicine use worldwide, it says, better patient adherence and five other “levers” could be used to trim as much as $500 billion in avoidable healthcare costs each year, or 8% of total annual global health expenditures.

The levers are detailed in the study, “Advancing the Responsible Use of Medicines: Applying Levers for Change,” released by the IMS Institute during the recent World Congress of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences 2012, in Amsterdam.

The study calls responsible medicine use an “urgent imperative” for the global health system, and suggests that much unnecessary spending could be eliminated through increased medicine adherence; more timely medicine use to prevent diseases from worsening; the optimization of antibiotic use to turn the tide on rising antimicrobial resistance; the prevention of medical errors; the use of low-cost and safe generic drugs where available to leverage the under-exploited opportunity in markets where patents have expired; and better management of the dangers presented by concurrent use of multiple medicines, particularly among the elderly.

In addition, the study also calls on dispensers of medicine, the pharmaceutical industry, and patients to employ existing information to set priorities, monitor progress, and support behavior change among all stakeholders, from policymakers to patients.

“As our study makes clear, medicines — and the policies and practices that govern their use — are an essential and under-appreciated piece of the global healthcare puzzle,” says Murray Aitken, executive director of the IMS Institute. “By framing the challenges and possible solutions, we want to trigger the realization that improvements are possible and that these levers can yield economic benefits as well as health improvements.”

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